Friday, July 11, 2014

Rabbi Eliyokim Levanon: Lost In Translation?

ערב שרב קודש פר׳ פינחס תשע״ד Chief Rabbis condemn killing of Abu Khdeir as 'outrageous murder'
Jeremy Sharon, July 7, 2014

Rabbi Levanon says it is biblical precept to 'eradicate evil from your midst;'says death penalty should also be used for Jewish teens' murderers.

Rabbi Eliyakim Levanon

...And on Sunday night, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, one of the leading rabbis of the settlements in Judea and Samaria, called for the imposition of the death penalty on the murderers of Abu Khdeir.

Speaking to Walla news website, Levanon said Jewish law is not merciful when dealing with "such a cruel murder," regardless of whether the victim was Jewish or not.

"There is an obligation to give them the death penalty, in order to fulfill the [Biblical precept of] 'you shall eradicate the evil from your midst," the rabbi said.

"The State of Israel and its operational arms, the IDF and the security services are required and commanded to wage war against terror without mercy, until it has been expunged from the world," adding that the murderers of Gil'ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel should also receive the death penalty. (cont.)

Esser Agaroth (2¢):
Mohamed Abu Khdeir
giving the "three finger" salute
Let me take the opportunity to state the objectives of this post very clearly:

1. To express my confusion over Rabbi Levanon's opinion.

2. To ask questions regarding his opinion, and to put forth halakhic sources to support such queries.

3. To encourage discussion on his stated opinion.
"...the murderers of Gil'ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah and Naftali Fraenkel should also receive the death penalty."

How very "fair" of Rabbi Levanon. But does his halakhic logic stand up to scrutiny?

 רמב"ם הלכות רוצח ושמירת נפש פרק ב,י
...[יא] ישראל שהרג גר תושב--אינו נהרג עליו בבית דין, שנאמר "וכי יזיד איש על ריעהו..." (שמות כא,יד); ואין צריך לומר שאינו נהרג על הגוי...

Ramba"m Laws of the Murderer and Guarding a Life 2:10
...A Jew who kills a non-Jewish resident alien is not put to death by a court, as it says And if a man come purposely upon his neighbor,..." (Ex. 21:14); and one does not need to say that one is not killed over [killing] a goy....

כסף משנה (הפירוש של בית יוסף על משנה תורה): שכתב רבינו אינו נהרג עליו בב״ד כלומר אבל נהרג בדיני שמיים חייב.

Kesef Mishnah (Beth Yosef's commentary on the Ramba"m's Mishneh Torah): That which Rabbenu (Ramba"m) has written "he is not killed by a rabbinical court," is to say that he is obligated to be put to death by Heaven.

Others write that the judgment is passed on to the Heavenly Court for adjudication on such matters. Yet, the bottom line appears to be that the earthy bound, Jewish court, even more so, a court filled with members disqualified as kosher judges, cannot put a Jew to death who has been found to have killed even a non-Jewish resident alien, ie. "kosher" goy.

However, Rabbi Levanon's position that it would be permissible to issue the death penalty against a Jew who has been found guilty of killing a goy, even though a Sanhedrin does not currently stand, appears to be based on the following:
רמב"ם הלכות רוצח ושמירת נפש פרק ב,ד
ובכל אלו הרצחנים וכיוצא בהן שאינן מחוייבים מיתת בית דין--אם רצה מלך ישראל להורגם בדין המלכות ותקנת העולם, הרשות בידו. וכן אם ראו בית דין להרוג אותן בהוראת שעה--אם הייתה השעה צריכה לכך, הרי יש להם רשות כפי מה שיראו. 
Ramba"m Laws of the Murderer and Guarding a Life 2:4
And in each of these, murderers and such who are not obligated to be put to death -- if the King of Israel wants to kill them, the authority is in his hands. And so, if the court saw fit to kill them under temporary order -- if the time [is determined to] requires it, then they have the authority according to what they see.

Yet, this hopefully begs the question, what King? The last time I checked, we did not have any King besides The Almighty God Himself ruling over us.

Is Rabbi Levanon suggesting that the Israeli Government, even though not a proper, Jewish (Torah) government, unless you count cosmetics and window dressing, has the status of a King of Israel?

I have heard that there are mamlakhtim (diehard State-loyalists) who believe that the K'nesseth serves as the stand-in for the King. Even though the K'nesseth itself is certainly filled mostly with members who are disqualified from serving as King.

And the courts? Rabbi Levanon puts the fate of a Jew in the hands of these Erev Rav courts? That evidence from some of Israel's "security agencies" can be trusted fully. Even though they are from functioning with transparency? May God save us from ourselves!

Does he really want to trust that the death penalty will be implemented "fairly" across the board? He could not possibly believe that the current Israeli Justice System will deal with boys with large kippos and payos running around hill tops the same way they deal with Arabs, or better yet, rich, secular, Ashkenazy kids from North Tel-Aviv?

Furthermore, if Rabbi Levanon believes that the killing of an Arab boy by some misguided, young men (assuming this is what actually occurred) to be evil, and we are commanded to wipe out evil from our midst, does that mean he for the wiping out of all other manifestations of evil?

The Christians on a hilltop next to Har Brachah, who have caused all of the Jewish residents except for one to leave, are now building a "worship tent." Is this avodah zarah (foreign/forbidden worship) not evil to be wiped out?

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed gave them permission to do so,...permission to set up a place of avodah zarah. Is this also not evil?

I suppose the one man's evil is another man's bank account.

What about the Arabs who kidnap Jewish women to "marry" them, hold them hostage, and then proceed to torture them inside the unreachable confines of Yehudah, Shomron, or Azza?

What about the Bedouin protection racket in the Negev?

Dare I mention all of the other politically-incorrect examples of "evil" mapped out by the Torah?

Furthermore, I find the idea of passing a new law to cover a "crime" already committed to be totally counter to the democratic ideals, the State of Israel claims to profess.

Why hasn't the death penalty been passed to apply to Arab murderers already? Or even applied only to "mass-murderers?"

Israel is hardly a democracy. It is more like a deMOCKracy, or when it goes after Jews for daring to follow The Almighty over the State, a DEMONacracy.

And the State's rabbis, trying to mash together Hellenist democracy with true Torah governance?

The State's rabbis are just that, the STATE's rabbis.

This all being said, perhaps Rabbi Levanon deserves the benefit of the doubt, and his true opinions were just lost in translation.

Sorry, but I seriously doubt that.

I also seriously doubt that he thought this through to the possible end results,...more than a handful of Jews being killed at the hand of "Jews," in the name of justice.


Ben-Shmuel said...

Give Em Hell! Wonderful post! I'm sick and tired of these mamlachtim distorting the Halacha for their own agenda.

Outlining said...

It seems like you hold the state itself is illegitimate.

I have two important questions for you:

1. Would you agree with the following article?

2. How can anyone speak up, realizing that if EFFECTIVE, he will meet the fate of deHaan, Kahane x2,and the rest?


Esser Agaroth said...

Outlining Laaz,

Thanks for writing, and thanks for your patience.

In order to answer question #1, I had to read the piece you sent me.

Unfortunately, I am not sure that I will be giving you the answers you were looking. IOW, I'm not sure how clear my answers are going to be.

First off, the legitimacy of the State. I am going to give you my cop-out answer that it is legitimate, but only b'di'avad, and only temporarily, until at least it becomes replaced by the next Kingdom of Judea or of all of Israel, whichever we can manage at first.

Em HaBanim Smeicha is a great resource for answering such questions. Rav Teichtel hy"d brings down sources suggesting that the Land will in fact be controlled by "treif birds," but "don't worry," this will only be temporary.

A1: Which part? He makes some good points. I try to stay away from anything invoking the name Yishaya Leibowitz, though. I don't think the Torah receives Libertarian principles 100%, and that's being kind.

A2: Your guess is as good as mine.

Outlining said...

Thanks for your answers!

Esser Agaroth said...


What are you thoughts?

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